Celebrating Fathers: Jacques-Yves and Jean-Michel Cousteau

This Father's Day, FOX Fan is celebrating dads by sharing stories of fatherly inspiration and love. Jean-Michel Cousteau is a dad himself, although he's gained a name for himself in furthering the mission of his marine pioneer father, Jacques-Yves Cousteau. We caught up with Jean-Michel to ask him some questions about his dad ... and how he keeps his memory alive.

+ Tell me about being the son of such a famous dad ... how did that influence you?

Well, he was not famous when I was a kid -- not until 1958 when "The Silent World" came out. Before that I had no idea that my father was an unsual person. I remember I had to wear a tuxedo at the opening in Paris, and I thought "wow!". Only when I was 18 did I realize my family was a little different.

And after that, it was only much later on that I realized that I was very privileged. My first dive was when I was seven years of age, my brother was four and a half. Very quickly I realized that we (humans) were using the ocean as a garbage can. And we became – thanks to the exposure that my dad made possible with his newly invented equipment – very aware very early on of what we were doing to the ocean. I have been empowered to have a mission – to share this with as many people as possible and sit down and have conversations with decision makers.

+ What characteristics do you feel your father passed on to you?

A curiousity, a sense of adventure. When we were growing up, he was not only talking about things but doing them -- and taking me and my brother there with him.

+ Tell me about Ocean Futures – what made you decide to start the organization?

After my father passed away 12 years ago, I wanted to honor his philosophy. So, I decided to create Ocean Futures Society – I loved the name, and that’s where we’ve been operating in the same spirit ever since.

+ What is one of your favorite memories of time spent with your dad when you were growing up?

There’s one time when I was very young, and we were diving as a family. When we would go diving, my brother and I would always want to talk under water. And my dad would always spend his time putting our mouth pieces back in our mouths … or else we would have drowned!

Another time I remember was in the early 70s -- I had the privilege of going to Papua New Guinea. And for me, inviting my father to go to a place he did not know … that was a privilege. We really enjoyed it.

+ You have two grown children of your own. What has been the most rewarding part about being a dad?

Watching them make their choices and, although sometimes it may not be what I would do, respecting their choices as what they want.

You either watch them make a mistake and say I told you so, or anticipate what they're going to do and give them the information to make their own decisions.